Question: Does a teen need to be listed as a primary driver if both parents are already listed as primary drivers of the two main vehicles, but there is an extra vehicle available in the household? For instance, can one parent be listed as the primary driver for two vehicles, one to commute to work and one for pleasure, and the teen as only a secondary driver for all family cars? They don’t drive any car all that often.

Answer: In your household, there are three drivers and three cars, so most car insurance companies would mandate that each driver be listed on the policy as the primary driver of one car, even your teenage driver.

Individual insurance company guidelines vary, but it’s pretty standard for auto insurers to require each listed driver on a policy to be matched up as the primary driver of a vehicle if the number of cars and drivers is equal. If instead, there were more cars than drivers, then you could be listed as the primary driver of more than one vehicle.

Typically, the primary driver is the driver who uses that vehicle the most. If you use both your commuter car and pleasure car more than other household drivers do, you can only be the primary of one of them. 

Your desire to make your teenage driver the secondary driver of all cars is understandable — it’s typically cheaper that way, and you and your wife may drive all of the household cars more than your son does.  Unfortunately, insurance companies assume each driver has one main car that he or she operates more than other household vehicles and thus want each driver assigned to that vehicle.

If your son drives each vehicle in the household equally, then see if it’s possible to assign him the cheapest vehicle to save on your premium. Keep in mind not all car insurance companies permit you to match up drivers and cars, some will automatically match the riskiest driver with the most expensive car. 

Another way to try and save is if your teenager never drives your pleasure car see if it’s possible to exclude him as a driver. 

If your pleasure car is a special high-performance or classic vehicle, then you may be able to lower your car insurance rates by signing a named driver exclusion saying that in exchange for your son never driving the vehicle he won’t be rated on it (or receive coverage if he did drive it). 

Teen car insurance can be expensive, so other ways to reduce rates include:

  • See if your child is eligible for a good student discount
  • Find out if taking a specific driving course will earn the teen a discount
  • Try out a pay-as-you-drive (PAYD) program
  • Shop around with multiple car insurance carriers

Comparison shopping is the best way to find the cheapest car insurance policy, especially with a young driver on your policy. This way you can find an auto insurance provider that is priced the best for your household’s needs.

 — Penny Gusner contributed to this story.

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Contributing Writer

Prachi is an insurance writer with a master’s degree in business administration. Through her writing, she hopes to help readers make smart and informed decisions about their finances. She loves to travel and write poetry.